Watermelon pickles are something I’ve wanted to make for a long time. I’ve heard people talk about them, and I always figured there had to be something I could do with the rinds leftover from my watermelons. Watermelon pickles are just like regular ole cucumber pickles. They’re good and crunchy. This particular recipe makes watermelon pickles that are sweet at the start and spicy at the end. You could eat them right out of the jar or even put them on hot dogs or hamburgers for something totally different. I’m contemplating chopping a few of these watermelon pickles and making a relish. I think it’d come out delicious. The flavor balance is perfect, not overly sweet or spicy. The pickling spice is strong, which I like, but if you’re not such a fan of the cloves in it you might want to use slightly less or remove some of them before adding to the brine.
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
4 cups of watermelon rind, peeled, chopped into 1/2"-3/4" cubes
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1-2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons pickling spice
Red pepper flake, to taste (optional)
Blanch the watermelon rind by bringing 4 cups of water and 3 tablespoons of salt to a boil in a pot over high heat. Stir until the salt dissolves.
Add the watermelon rind. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue simmering until just starting to turn tender (you want them to still be a bit crispy), about 5 minutes.
Skim off any fat and drain. Transfer to a large bowl.
Make the brine by bringing the remaining 1 cup of water, 1 teaspoon salt, vinegar, sugar, pickling spice, and red pepper (if using) to a boil in saucepan. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour the brine over the watermelon rind.
Cover with a plate to keep the rind submerged and let cool to room temperature.
Transfer to glass jars, cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.
The pickles will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Combine and store: Pour the hot brine over the rind. Use a small plate or a Ziplock bag partially filled with water (I use the Ziplock bag) to hold the rind under the brine. Let cool to room temperature. Transfer the rind and brine into clean glass jars (I use Mason jars), cover and chill before serving. Keep refrigerated - they'll keep several months.
These quick fix spicy pickles absolutely hit the spot. I love dill pickles, and I love a little spiciness so it was easy to love these pickles. They aren’t overly sweet and they aren’t overly spicy, though you can certainly make them spicier (or less) if you want. I found them to be just right, and perfect for sharing with the neighbors without having worry that they’d be too hot for them.
Whatever you do, do not discard the brine from the jarred pickles. Save it for making Nashville hot chicken or for use as a brine for chicken wings. I always save my pickle juice. I also cut off the ends of the pickles. Since that left me with a bowl of pickle pieces, I decided to make a quick and easy pickle relish.
These easy marinated mushrooms are some of the most addicting little bites I’ve ever made. Easy is right, too. They take no time at all to make. They are packed with flavor, a little sweet, a little heat and a bit of vinegar kick. I can guarantee that you will want to at least double the recipe because you won’t be able to stop eating them. I used a mix of white button and cremini mushrooms, but you can use any mix of mushrooms you like. You do want to make sure you use mushrooms that are all about the same size or some will cook faster than others. You want them to all be cooked the same, not some soft and some not.
The marinade for these easy mushrooms is very good. I plan on using it for other dishes, including as a marinade for chicken.
When people that have sworn off sweets and treats come back for thirds and fourths, you know you have a winner sweet snack on your hands. Anita and I made a big ole batch of turtle Graham bars for her co-workers. They disappeared in no time. And I can understand why because I was having serious control issues around them. Lightly bitter dark chocolate flavor (a favorite of mine), crunchy pecans and creamy buttery brown sugar, all over tasty Graham crackers. The sea salt topping is the crowning touch. Every bite is fantastic. Be careful with the butter and brown sugar mixture when it comes time to pour it over the crackers. It’s hot sticky stuff that can burn if you splatter it onto yourself. Also, you want the bars to sit in the fridge long enough for the chocolate to set up really well so that they can be broken up easily.
I’m always on the lookout for recipes that call for leftover pulled pork. I smoke a lot of pork, always making more than I need because I love it on more than just sandwiches. And boy oh boy, these BBQ deviled eggs are ‘da bomb’. They aren’t just hard boiled eggs topped with BBQ sauce-laden pork. Oh no. They bring it with a little vinegar kick, a little smoke and a little heat. Each bite is truly fantastic. You can make this recipe using any leftover smoked meat, be it pork, chicken or beef. Make sure you chop or shred it small. You don’t want the meat to drown out the other flavors.
Normally I would pipe the mixture onto the tops of the boiled eggs but this mixture was a bit too thick to do that so I just spooned it on top. No harm in that. People aren’t going to spend a lot of time looking at these BBQ deviled eggs. They won’t last long enough for long stares.
Oh yes! Finally three of my favorite things in a single bite. The kick of jalapeno poppers. The creamy richness of deviled eggs. Crunchy smoky bacon. Easy to make, easy to eat and dangerously addicting. These aren’t your grandma’s deviled eggs (which are good, but hey, they need some spice!). I could eat these all day long. In fact I’m making them again for this year’s Easter get-together. Several will disappear before they get to my sister-in-laws house so I will have to make plenty of extra. I will put up a little sign letting people know that they are spicy just in case. I don’t want to start a big family ruckus over someone accidentally eating these jalapeno popper deviled eggs and blaming me for not telling them that they have a little kick to them!
My first attempt at making these cheese straws was a learning experience. If the dough mixture is too thick it’s a nightmare to get through a cookie press. If the dough mixture is too thin the straw will flatten out as they bake and you’ll end up with a pan full of sadness. But, I did finally get it just right and oh, man, are these cheese straws more than just a little addicting! Crunchy and packed with cheese flavor you can’t eat just one handful.
I dusted the baked cheese straws with cayenne and smoked paprika, but you could try other flavors too. Italian seasoning for example, for a more savory approach. Or perhaps a little Ranch dressing mix.
I think you could also try other cheeses, specially something like a Monterey Jack or Swiss.
1/2 cup butter plus 1-3 more tablespoons, softened
2 cups shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place 1/2 cup of the butter in a mixer with the paddle attached.
Add 1 cup of the cheese and mix for 5-7 minutes until smooth, scraping down the sides as it goes.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, cayenne, smoked paprika, black pepper and garlic powder.
With the mixer still running, slowly add the flour mixture.
Add the remaining cheese.
Test the consistency of the batter. If it is really thick it might not go thru your cookie press or dessert decorator. If it is too thick, add another tablespoon of the softened butter and mix. Continue until just thin enough to press but not thin and runny.
Spoon mixture into your cookie press with a large star tip on the end.
Pipe out onto the parchment paper.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and dust with cayenne and smoked paprika, then transfer to a cooling rack.
I like making little treats for Anita to take to work and share with her co-workers. This time I decided to skip the sweets and send along some great savory baked seasoned Ritz crackers. Nothing fancy, but wonderfully tasty. Great on their own or with a creamy smooth dip or even better, slathered with goat’s cheese! You could substitute something other than Ritz crackers for this snack, but I’d lean towards something buttery if you do. You want to keep that savory creamy theme going. And make sure you keep an eye on them as they bake. They can quickly turn from golden brown to … very very golden brown!